OT - SATA 5400 RPM Drives OK for Backups Only?

Soniclight wrote on 11/19/2014, 12:55 AM
Besides my very first computer way long ago when 7200 rpm didn't exist, I've always stuck to 7200 drives. As my other thread on what are the currently most reliable hds alludes to, I've had two Seagates that are becoming iffy. Firmware updates, Seatools and chkdisk have them running again, but once problems start, it's not a good sign. So I'm considering replacing them for warranty on both are gone.

As I look online, I find that the same 1 TB and up 5400 rpm drives are more affordable for my pauper budget. One selling point is that they run cooler, which makes sense since slower, and so less heat also may mean longer lifespan. Power consumption also lower, but that's not something I worry about.

The core issue for me is speed: 5400 is 25% slower than 7200.
Not that big of a deal for backing up files and and OS.
OS restores will just be a bit slower too.

Q: What are your experiences with and/or viewpoints on 5400 drives?

Thank you.
~ Philip


farss wrote on 11/19/2014, 1:13 AM
5400 RPM drives are fine, even for editing.

Aerial density has as much impact on how fast data I/O can be done as RPM for a disk.
My biggest dislike for any disk is the daft power saving spin up/down thing, at the very least it should be configurable.

TroyTheTech wrote on 11/19/2014, 1:32 AM
It's hard to say how it will affect your workflow, until you try it, unfortunately.
But for the most part, only large games and recording to the hard drive, you would have to worry about. Editing is sort of off-and-on when it comes to disk access, but has a lot less accessing than a game that is loading areas as you move around... sorry but I come from a gaming/IT background.

If you end up saving a lot on the drives, you could always put them in a striped RAID, which would increase their access times, making up for the speed difference.

Make sure to turn off any 'power saving' features, which slow them down even more...
Soniclight wrote on 11/19/2014, 1:51 AM
Thanks for reply, Bob. While I kind of guessed what you meant by "aerial density", I had to look it up to be sure. So I am to assume that the higher the aerial density is proportional to the size of the drive, i.e. a 500 Gb has less than a 1.5 Tb. And so I'm assuming from what you said also that the higher in both cases, the faster the read/write; so a big capacity 5400 will read/write fast enough to not notice much difference with a smaller capacity 7200. Feel free to correct me if I'm mis-interpreting this.

And while I was looking this up, I found the below article.
Maybe I should wait a couple of years and get a couple of 60 Tb drives- lol.

HDD Areal Density Doubling in Five Years
Soniclight wrote on 11/19/2014, 1:55 AM
Thanks, Troy The Tech. I've never used or played games, but I do record audio in Steinberg Cubase -- which is far less intensive than video. As to power saving settings, I never use them, be it in the OS or BIOS. Never hibernate either.
Soniclight wrote on 11/19/2014, 1:58 AM
PS to Bob: in terms of spin-down being a drawback for you, I feel otherwise. Less usage = longer life--though the spin-up and spin-down may also stress the drive a bit. But as you said, it's kind of moot for there are no user settings for that as far as I know.
TroyTheTech wrote on 11/19/2014, 2:43 AM

There are a few places that you could try to turn off the powersaving of the HDD's:
- in the BIOS
Power Management Area [disable]
- in Windows (Power Options in Control Panel)
set the minutes to power down [999999]
- in Software (from the Manuf.)
I'm not sure what they call them these days, but HD manuf's have software that can access the drive controller board and configure it. There is also something called HDDscan that supposedly can let you alter the drive's Advanced Power Management, but I have not used that myself, but I have heard others talk about it.

Maybe one of these will help you(s) (:
ritsmer wrote on 11/19/2014, 3:21 AM
Just got one of the new Western Digital RED 4 TB HDD's.
According to the specifications WD is not talking about "RPM" any more - but about "IntelliPower" speed.
There is a lot of guessing on the Internet about their actual speed - but nobody seems to know for sure.
Fact is, however, that on my machine it is significantly faster than my other 2 HDDs and it is said to be power-saving.
They also have an even more power-saving "Green" series.
TroyTheTech wrote on 11/19/2014, 3:41 AM

Yah, the WD RED's are pretty good. They adjust their spin rates between 5400-7200rpm as needed, but overall are slightly faster than the 'regular' BLUE drives. BLACK drives are the fastest (7200rpm only) and GREEN of course are the slowest. Nice to have a choice depending on what the user would end up needing, though.
farss wrote on 11/19/2014, 3:42 AM
[I]"Less usage = longer life--though the spin-up and spin-down may also stress the drive a bit."[/I]

When the drive is not being accessed, only spinning, there's pretty much no wear. When the drive spins down the heads are moved to a landing zone. On spin up the drive goes through a calibration sequence.

The only advantage of spinning the disk down is to save power which is a good thing, I'm all for being green. What that has to be balanced against is the increased risk of the drive failing due to it being spun up and down. That could result in the failure of the drive and the loss of the embedded energy used to make the unit.

Chienworks wrote on 11/19/2014, 8:03 AM
The cheapest scummiest slowest lowball 5400RPM drive today runs circles around 15000RPM drives of only a few years ago. Really, for almost all applications, platter rotation speed is moot these days.

I'm running almost entirely WD green drives everywhere, except for a couple airport database servers processing 5000 transactions per second that have blacks, and my new laptop which came with a blue installed. In any real-world situations you won't notice any speed difference between any of them, since even the slowest drives now supply data faster than most applications can make use of them. The only time you might notice a difference is when you're copying GB+ sized files over a local bus.

I can simultaneously record a 30Mbps DV stream, copy a DV stream to another drive, record 16 channels of audio, and play back a two-video track timeline in Vegas all with a 5400RPM green drive without any of them skipping.
Chienworks wrote on 11/19/2014, 8:34 AM
Completely anecdotal, and most likely not true, but one of the sysadmins i used to work with claims this: WD tries to make every drive a Black drive. Those that don't pass the rigid quality control standards get tested to see if they can be Red. Those that fail Red testing get sent to be tested as Blue, and those that fail Blue testing get a firmware tweak to limit them to 5400RPM and a Green label stuck on them, whether they pass Green testing or not.

I'm sure this is false, but he certainly believed it.
dxdy wrote on 11/19/2014, 8:38 AM
I agree that drive speed doesn't make a difference with SVP. What DOES make a difference, is using 3 drives - one for OS/Programs, one for input files, and a third for output files. Experimenting on my i7-5960, I ran the Sony press release (cars) benchmark Main Concept with GPU 2 different ways:

Method 1: Source on D drive, programs and rendered output on C drive - result 84 seconds.

Method 2 (after I got another drive installed): Source on D, programs on C, output on H - result 59 seconds.

This was not a big surprise, people here have been encouraging us to do it this way for as long as I have been on the forum.

(For those following my expensive tale of woe, it is on the way back to Cyberpower to see if they can figure out why it won't handle 2TB HDDs.)
TroyTheTech wrote on 11/19/2014, 11:33 AM

This process is actually utilized to certain extent in manufacturing processors and chips for technology such as CPUs, GPUs and RAM, where they are burn-in tested and if found they fail at certain speeds, they are locked into a lower operating range (where they were found stable) and sold as that tier, when in reality, their 'template' is of much higher pedigree...

I don't know the specifics of the WD manufacturing process, but for complex components like CPUs and GPUs, manufacturers also remove/terminate (or never install/print) connections and portions from the PCBs (for instance, burn off the connections within CPUs or never add the RAM onto the PCB of a GPU or Mainboard, which leaves behind the blank areas where they would be installed) - that is, if they don't just put the material back into processing (melting it down and reusing it). The result is basically "if it failed at 100, then disable/lock it down to only be an 80 and sell it as a 70". This pre-determination and selectiveness (or as I called it once 'Technological Infanticide' after learning how they just discard the parts that don't work as they desired) occurs a lot in computing technology - I personally would not be surprised at all if that process actually occurs within WD.

Sorry for all the acronyms
PeterDuke wrote on 11/19/2014, 6:15 PM
"Completely anecdotal, and most likely not true, but one of the sysadmins i used to work with claims this: WD tries to make every drive a Black drive. Those that don't pass the rigid quality control standards get tested to see if they can be Red. Those that fail Red testing get sent to be tested as Blue, and those that fail Blue testing get a firmware tweak to limit them to 5400RPM and a Green label stuck on them, whether they pass Green testing or not."

They used to say a similar thing about the model number of obviously related transistors (in those days when we bought discrete transistors). Maybe it was true then and the logic passed on to hard disks.
OldSmoke wrote on 11/19/2014, 7:05 PM
It's called binning and is certainly done but I am not sure if that counts for the complete drive. I would rather say that the components for the drives are binned and different models are made from different bins for different specs.

Proud owner of Sony Vegas Pro 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13 and now Magix VP15&16.

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Soniclight wrote on 11/19/2014, 11:46 PM
Whoah... an interesting and informative avalanche of replies from all of you. Thank you. With the U.S. Thanksgiving Black Friday coming up, I'll see what I decide to do. But one thing is for sure: all of your input, has made me far more comfortable with the 5400 choice.